A day after Microsoft announced the launch of its CoPilot app for Android, iOS and iPadOS, the company is ready with a new physical key that would appear on the laptop keyboard alongside the Windows key and the Control key and the Alt key. All of which confirms the tech giant’s aspiration to stay ahead of the AI curve in 2024 by offering it to as many users as possible.
A short video shared by Microsoft suggests that the Copilot key could replace the right Control key on the standard PC keyboard, snuggly fitting in between the Alt and the left arrow key. “The introduction of the Copilot key marks the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades,” says Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president & consumer chief marketing officer, in a blog post announcing the development.
Providing AI at your fingertips and gaining mindshare
In the post, Mehdi goes on to state that the company believes the new key will “empower people to participate in the AI transformation more easily. The Copilot key joins the Windows key as a core part of the PC keyboard and when pressed, the new key will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless to engage Copilot in your day to day.”
This development comes barely a day after Microsoft quietly launched the Copilot app on Android and iOS to provide smartphone access to their service known earlier as Bing Chat and operates in a way similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. All you need to do is open the app, type a question or a prompt to receive responses generated by artificial intelligence.
Ring fencing AI chatbot technology for itself
Of course, there are several options available today to use ChatGPT on smartphones but Microsoft appears to be ring fencing OpenAI offerings for itself, given that they had pumped in (or promised to) a whopping $10 billion into the company post the first release of ChatGPT in November 2022.
With Copilot on the smartphones, users can leverage the AI chatbot to draft emails, compose stories or scripts, summarize complex texts, write or update resumes and even create personalized travel itineraries among other things. Users would also have access to Image Creator powered by DALL.E3 to explore and curate social media content, generate logo designs, create customized backgrounds, visualize film or video storyboards etc.
However, Copilot is just Bing Chat rebranded
Since Microsoft launched these apps during the holidays and that too without much hype, the downloads of Copilot are just picking up, having now appeared on smartphones of close to 2 million users worldwide. Users are likely to make a beeline for the app, given that it provides access to OpenAI GPT tech for free at a time when the latter actually charges for GPT4.
Of course, one could argue that prior to this launch, Microsoft had provided Bing Chat to mobile users back in November. The functionalities via the Bing Chat feature on the Bing app were pretty similar to what you have with Copilot – a fact that makes us believe that the company may just wind up the Bing app and replace it with Copilot everywhere.
Coming to the Copilot key on desktops, the company post says that over the coming days (leading up to the CES next week), the Copilot key would appear on several Windows 11 PCs from Microsoft’s ecosystem partners. In areas where Copilot is not available the key will launch Windows Search.
“Nearly 30 years ago, we introduced the Windows key to the PC keyboard that enabled people all over the world to interact with Windows. We see this as another transformative moment in our journey with Windows where Copilot will be the entry point into the world of AI on the PC,” says Mehdi in the blog post.
All of this makes it quite clear that Microsoft is fully prepared to utilize all the hyperbole around the AI story and carve a position ahead of its big tech rivals such as Google and Amazon in this space. Must say Satya Nadella does recognize a good apple when he sees one and knows how to utilize it to his advantage. Wonder how Steve Jobs would have reacted to this!